Today’s blog post comes to us from Patti Jacobs MA, LPC, President & Professional Counselor for Thresholds, P.C. in Denver, Colorado. Patti and I attended high school together and re-connected via Facebook. When Patti saw the invitation to participate in Mental Health week, she enthusiastically responded with two articles. Patti’s journey through depression and anxiety are an inspiration for those who are looking for hope. Thank you Patti for your generous contribution!!!!!
The Road to Recovery
I believe that through embracing life’s challenges we can transcend our current selves. We then discover who we are to a greater depth than ever before. And we are allowed, through this grace, to see how beautifully we have been created.
I do not know any secrets regarding how to recover from mental illness. When I look back at my own progress, I see the hazy outline of the road I created, but cannot recall the details of pace or slope, pitfall or rise. I know not how I arrived at my current destination, but hold snapshots of my experiences in my mind’s eye. I am not alone in these images; I have had many wise guides who have supported me in my efforts: husband, parents, siblings, friends, mentors, colleagues, clergy, and counselors. This is my support system, my community. Without them, I doubt my recovery would have come to be.
The process of recovery consists of many tasks with no specific order. I moved through these stages in a meandering path, visiting one site for a moment then glancing off to rest for a time in another space. Sometimes I would revisit a place, as if I couldn’t understand what I was supposed to learn there. After a depressive episode where I became seriously ill, I discovered the necessity of admitting I needed help. Learning to truly accept “the beast” of my illness was another vital step in learning to transcend my symptoms. I began to fully comply with my body’s need for medication, healthy eating, exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule. I developed effective coping skills. I learned to let go of my intense focus on my symptoms by serving others. I discovered that my illness did not need my constant attention, as I had believed. My illness needed me to pursue my life, to transcend the symptoms by creating the vision I was meant to fulfill.
To elucidate the road of recovery, I share this image:
The path I traveled on abruptly closed itself to me.
clouds thundered in, surrounded me
heavy, heavy rains washed away my familiar places.
I struggled, I fought
but my forest turned on me
tree limbs cut into my tender skin
vines and brambles tangled and tripped me
muddy clay caked my body
I could not even recognize myself.
I called out to my heavens to save me, but did not believe I was heard.
To survive, I fought to find my own way – forge a new path.
It would be much harder than the last.
When my sun came out my vision was blinded.
So, I created new eyes
and found my way among my griefs and fears,
discovering small graces and tiny joys
in quiet places
along my new trail.
Today I pause
I look back on my journey thus far.
I am awed by my gains that my beleaguered efforts made.
When my first path was destroyed
I was certain I had lost all.
I believed I was utterly alone.
When my storm barred my ease
I believed I would gain only pains.
Yet, through my exertions
I accepted my wise guides,
I created my most beautiful joy.
My path is my own
past, present, future
pace, views, anticipations
I continue to create
my journeying identity